Family Well-Being: Negotiating the Transition from Concept to Prototype

Well, the PXL team working in Dallas on Family Well-Being just completed a two-week sprint to co-create new healthcare experiences with the families and community stakeholders of North Texas — but not healthcare as we know it today. Instead, the kind of healthcare that starts with a deep understanding of all of the factors contributing to our overall well-being — factors such as values, cultural truths, spirituality, resourcefulness, and self esteem.

I have to admit that at the beginning of this journey, I was a bit intimidated by the challenge.  I mean it’s not like we're trying to come up with new ideas for johnnies in hospitals — for which I have many, since I started redesigning that in my head after the very first accidental "reveal" in the hallway — we're trying to figure out how to help people facing our world's most pressing challenges, such as poverty, chronic illness, racial tensions, and economic disparity. We're trying to gain a sense of purpose and agency so that people can become more powerful agents of their own health and well-being. 

As always, I just kept telling myself to trust the process, and as always, the process didn’t fail us. After this experience I have come to believe that any problem or challenge can be effectively explored by bringing the voices and perspectives of the end user together with the passion and experience of the people responsible for delivering the solutions.

But the journey is truly just beginning.  I love every stage of transformational innovation, but I have to say, this next one may be my favorite — creating prototypes of these ideas so we can test their efficacy in the real world.   But I don’t love it because it’s easy — I love it because of the creativity, resourcefulness, strong relationships, and critical thinking required to ensure we maximize our ability to quickly learn how, and if, this new product or service delivers new value. 

And building the prototype isn’t the only challenge.  Whether you are introducing a wholly new experience from the inside of a large organization, or working as an external partner to help an organization adopt, adapt, and launch this innovation, you are going to be faced with the very real and very natural resistance that comes with change, not because people don’t want to see the innovation happen — most  do — but because innovation disrupts familiarity.  Factors such as ownership, workload, alignment of incentives, and clarity of expectations  all play a part. 

In Dallas, we are currently negotiating these factors and taking care to:

Understand the current landscape and take inventory on the hopes and expectations of key stakeholders, while analyzing the current initiatives to reconcile their alignment (or disconnect) to the new experiences.  It is so important that we recognize the need to continue to put coals into the fire of the existing business model while we try new things. The best way to do that is to create value and alignment for those responsible for both the existing business model and the new. 

See that all stakeholders understand their roles and expectations as it relates to their involvement.  The NIH (Not Invented Here) factor can kill a concept before it ever jumps off the drawing board, leaving all who were excited about the concept during brainstorming standing in the "how come" conference room scratching their heads.

Connect the new ideas to meaningful reward or return.  This return does not have to be personal, such as a promotion or an innovation reward for the employee. Rather, it simply must contribute to a tangible, measurable expectation that employees are held accountable for — be it strengthening an existing strategy, making an existing initiative more tangible or visible, or setting up a new program  for more guaranteed success. 

Underscoring all of this is the need to ensure that the most senior management engaged in the initiative has:  1)  been clear and precise about the goals and expectations connected to the initiative; 2) appropriately positioned and prioritized the initiative, relative to all other ongoing workstreams and strategic targets; and 3)  created an open-door policy as it relates to ongoing resources and support needs, to flex and redirect as needed throughout.

So far, so good.  Stay tuned for some duct tape and glue prototypes that will challenge and reframe the way we look at healthcare, and create the learnings necessary to inspire new thinking and move forward our mission to transform the healthcare system in our country.

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